The future of the children of this state is always going to be a keenly debated topic.
If the mood at Friday night’s education forum in Burnie is any indication, the minister Jeremy Rockliff has a long way to go to convince some of the need for a change to the school starting age.
Despite the announcement on Thursday that the government would not make the change compulsory, the crowd on Friday night was adamant it wasn’t enough.
The plans to reduce the starting age for school has been the hot topic to come out of the plans to update the Education Act in Tasmania.
It has generated ninety per cent of the discussion around the changes, if not more.
And it comes from the perspective of trying to improve Tasmania’s education outcomes.
Which is one of the reasons people are so passionate about it.
Both sides of the debate believe they are doing the right thing for future generations.
Nobody can argue that Tasmania’s educational outcomes are good enough.
It’s how we turn that around that is the major topic.
Mr Rockliff says his aim is to ensure every family values education, and he believes that engaging children earlier will help to give them a stronger connection.
He rejected claims at the meeting that teachers and other educational professionals had been shut out of the debate. This is despite recent polling from the Australian Education Union which showed that 77 per cent ofunion membersin the state were opposed to the change to the starting age.
The fact that so many are opposed to the change toage change should be telling.
The union says it overlooks the critical element of parents in determining a child’s educational success.
They are recommending more of an investment in other initiatives such as child and family centres and the Launching into Learning programs, which specialise in helping parents and giving children individual attention when needed.
Any change to the age in schools is likely to result in more pupils, and this must not happen without an adequate increase to the resourcing of all public schools.
Already the average school struggles to make ends meet with tight budgets and has to make choices. Having to cater for more children, particularly young ones, shouldn’t cost others.
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